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  • Writer's picturePhil


"The real Christian is always a revolutionary. To say day by day “Thy Kingdom Come” – if these tremendous words really stand for a conviction and desire does not mean “I quite hope that some day the Kingdom of God will be established, and peace and goodwill prevail.

But at present I don’t see how it is to be managed or what I can do about it.”

On the contrary, it means, or should mean, “Here am I! Send me!”; active, costly collaboration with the Spirit in whom we believe."

“Mysticism” A real man or woman of prayer should be a live wire,

a link between God's grace and the world that needs it.

In so far as you have given your lives to God, you have offered yourselves, without conditions, as transmitters of his saving and enabling live: and the will and love, the emotional drive, which you thus consecrate to God's purposes, can do actual work on supernatural levels for those for whom you are called upon to pray.

One human spirit can, by its prayer and love, touch and change another human spirit; it can take a soul and lift it into the atmosphere of God.

This happens, and the fact that it happens

is one of the most wonderful things in the Christian life." (p.55)


EVELYN UNDERHILL - The only child of a prominent barrister and his wife, Evelyn Underhill was born in Wolverhampton, England, and grew up in London. She was educated there and in an Anglo-Catholic girls’ school in Folkestone, where she was confirmed in the Church of England. Her spiritual curiosity was naturally lively, and she read widely, developing an early deep appreciation for mysticism. At sixteen, she began a life-long devotion to writing.

Evelyn had few childhood companions, but one of them, Hubert Stuart Moore, she eventually married. Other friends, made later, included such famous persons as Laurence Housman, Maurice Hewlett, and Sarah Bernhardt. Closest of all were Ethel Ross Barker, a devout Roman Catholic, and Baron Friedrich von Hügel, with whom she formed a strong spiritual bond. He became her director in matters mystical.

In the 1890’s, Evelyn began annual visits to the Continent, and especially to Italy. There she became influenced by the paintings of the Italian masters and by the Roman Catholic Church. She spent nearly fifteen years wrestling painfully with the idea of converting to Roman Catholicism, but decided in the end that it was not for her.

In 1921, Evelyn Underhill became reconciled to her Anglican roots, while remaining what she called a “Catholic Christian.” She continued with her life of reading, writing, meditation, and prayer. She had already published her first great spiritual work, Mysticism. This was followed by many other books, culminating in her most widely read and studied book, Worship (1937).

Evelyn Underhill’s most valuable contribution to spiritual literature must surely be her conviction that the mystical life is not only open to a saintly few, but to anyone who cares to nurture it and weave it into everyday experience, and also (at the time, a startling idea) that modern psychological theories and discoveries, far from hindering or negating spirituality, can actually enhance and transform it.

Evelyn Underhill’s writings proved appealing to many, resulting in a large international circle of friends and disciples, making her much in demand as a lecturer and retreat director. She died, at age 65, in 1941

“Penetrate these murky corners

where we hide our memories and tendencies

on which we do not care to look,

but which will not yield freely up to you,

that you may purify and transmute them.

The persistent buried grudge,

the half-acknowledged enmity,

the private comfort we cling to,

the secret fear of failure,

which saps our initiative and is really inverted pride,

the pessimism which is an insult to your joy.

Lord we bring these to you, and review them

in your steadfast light.”

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